Ahhh… the villages of Santorini… built high on top of the island.  White washed buildings and blue domed churches. A romantic island jewel, you might say.

For those of you who’ve read previous posts, you know I’m not a fan of physical exertion, unless I’ve spent too much time at the MAC makeup counter conveniently located right in the terminal of the airport (thankyou Schipol airport) and am running for my gate before the agent decides to close the door. Then I run. But other than that, I’m pretty much taking the easy way of doing anything. According to the laws of physics and human biology, I should weigh 500 lbs and have the heart of a 2,000 year old mummy. (the heart comment could very well prove to be true, I’m not sure when the last time I felt it beat was, so who knows.)

Picture it… Santorini, in October. It’s an unbelievable day, sun is beating down on us in a cloudless sky. It’s a zillion degrees and my makeup is melting off my face faster than you can say Anbesol. We’ve finished our sightseeing tour, and opted to enjoy a couple happy beverages in one of the hilltop bars that overlook the incredible sights below. If it weren’t for the table’s umbrella providing some much-needed shade, I’m certain my thighs would still be stuck to the chair, after all, they were already stuck to each other.

Nice spot, me thinks.

White wine and beer, it doesn’t get better than this. (unless it’s more wine and beer)

We finished our drinks and decided to make our way down to the pier. Since my better half had never been on a cable car, he was somewhat eager to do it. It was an hour before we were due back on our ship so I knew we had plenty of time. That is, until we walked out onto the lane and discovered a lineup that extended down the hill from where we were standing and went all the way to what appeared to be the top of the hill.

Surely to god this wasn’t people waiting in line for the cable car. Was it?

It was.

Now I should point out that the village was seriously overcrowded because there were 3 cruise ships in when there was only supposed to be ours. One was diverted to Santorini because it couldn’t go to Israel as planned and the other was diverted from its scheduled arrival in Cairo. Go figure. Our tour guide told us there was an influx of over 6,000 people in a place usually reserved for 2,500.

We bypassed everyone in the line and went to the top of the hill just to see, if indeed, this was a line for something that perhaps, we didn’t want. We got to the top of the hill which opened up into a small square, dotted with shops and one heck of an angry group of people. The entire group of people would all start to shout when it looked like someone was butting in line. I scanned the group and saw a man who looked like he might be English speaking and by his outward appearances, he should have been jolly. I was wrong.

This guy was a near perfect cross between Shrek and Fat Bastard.

I asked him, “Excuse me, is this the lineup for the cable car or is everyone waiting for donkeys in order to go down the mountain?” He looked at me over his puffy cheeks and shouted, “The end of the line is down there.” I looked at him funny, “No, no, we don’t want to butt in, I just want to know if that’s what everyone here is waiting for.” He leaned in closer to me and shouted in my face, “THE END OF THE LINE IS THAT WAY.” Just then two other people looked to be butting in the line and suddenly the crowd became enraged. I looked at the fat man and said,”Do you know if the walkway down the hill is also this way?” He looked disapprovingly at me and said, “I don’t know, but even if it is, the end of the line is that way.” I wanted to punch him in the face. He sounded like a broken record and was shaped like a big fat donut. The crowd got even angrier at some other people and I looked at my better half and said, “Let’s get outta here before this gets really ugly.” I envisioned a mass riot breaking out at any minute and it was gonna start with me choking out the fat man with my shopping bag for being so rude. There was no need of that. None.

Two other english speaking couples were beside us as we started down the laneway. The man asked me if we knew if the “donkey trail” was this way. I told him that I’d hoped so because although our tour guide advised us against taking the donkeys down the hill, at this point I was willing to put a donkey on MY back if it was the only way down. Several restaurants and shops later we asked a local if this was the way to the trail and we were advised it was “just around the white building”. And that would have been helpful except they were all white. Lucky for us, you could soon follow your nose to the smell of barn animals which lead us directly to the rear end of several donkeys and the stairs down the side of the mountain on the other side of them.

Now, I should point out that while I love makeup, chocolate, gelato, and traveling, I also love high heeled shoes. Noooo, I wasn’t wearing them at this point, but I soon wished I was. Why, you ask? Because I was wearing flip flops and while they were certainly comfortable, I may as well have been wearing banana peels on my feet. The wide stairs that led down the mountain seemed to not only be constructed of extremely worn down and as a result, super shiny stones but were somewhat tilted on a downward grade. And what made this trek even more precarious was the fact that it was speckled every few metres with a fresh (or not so fresh) pile of donkey dung. All I needed was to slip on a rock and fall in donkey poop. That would have completed the trip for sure. I figured that with the tricky steps, a pair of high heels would have given me some traction at least.

Just a few steps…

Like my experience with the never-ending steps at the Eiffel Tower, these steps didn’t seem to end either. Mind you, with every step I was thankful that this was even an option to get to the bottom of the hill. Heaven forbid having to wait in that ridiculously long line up for the cable car amidst a sea of ornery people. No thanks. At least the people partaking in this mass exodus down the stairs were rather upbeat and found the experience humorous.

… and a few more…

By about the millionth step, I finally started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Actually, it wasn’t a light at all, but the sun reflecting off of one of the harnesses on a donkey, but hey, it felt spiritual at the time.) Alas, we’d reached the bottom. I gazed upward to the top of the hill, which made me dizzy, so I stopped. I wanted to kiss the ground, or kiss a donkey, or just kiss the side of the mountain for being so happy to have reached the pier before the ship had set sail, but I remembered all the poop I’d encountered and decided against that.

I was dripping with sweat, could feel my heart beating in my face and wondered if I was feeling the ill effects of sunstroke. Probably wasn’t sunstroke… it was what happens to people who don’t exercise and then overdo it every couple of years. Surely the temp outside was nearing 100 degrees, and I’d just completed enough exercise to last the rest of my life. My body must’ve been in shock from such a vigorous workout. (yessss, even though it was downhilllll… my body would still be in shock.) My legs felt rubbery as we made our way onto the tender to take us back to the ship.

I turned to my better half as our little tender left the dock headed for the ship. “I’m sooo glad we were able to walk down that mountain. I’d hate to be still in that lineup.” I said, enjoying the breeze off the water.

“Same here.” he replied. God he looked good… glistening from his trek down the hill… tiny beads of sweat on his neck… leg muscles all tight … wait, getting off topic here.

“I don’t want to see any more steps for a while.” I told him. And I was serious. No more steps. I was all for elevators, those moving sidewalks, escalators, or even being carried around – but no steps.

I spoke too soon…

….obviously someone in the cosmos is against me, because when we got back to the ship, the lineup for the elevators was seemingly just as long as the lineup for the darn cable cars back on the island.  Imagine my disgust at the very moment I realized we’d have to take the stairs to our cabin. That’s right, 8 whole decks of stairs.

Now that we’ve been home for two months and the weather is cold and I reflect back to that beautiful island, I’d gladly walk those steps every day just to be back there.  *sighhhhhh*  😀